After a delay of about six weeks as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Williamson County Board of Education finally had a chance to meet, discuss and vote on the proposed budget for the 2020-21 school year.
In an afternoon virtual work session and a special-called meeting Thursday afternoon, board members voted 11-0 to approve the budget presented by Williamson County Schools Superintendent Jason Golden and CFO Leslie Holman. Only one member, Candy Emerson from District 8, was unable to vote because she had become disconnected from the Zoom meeting.
Specifically, the board voted to approve $395,925,769 for the general purpose school fund and $9,936,647 for capital requests. Holman will later present to the board a request for $15,029,666 for the central cafeteria fund and $7,156,573 for the extended school program.
Holman had a budget ready to present to the school board about the time the coronavirus took hold in the county, and she and Golden subsequently met a few times with Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson to discuss ways to adjust the budget.
“With so many changes in our community, with so many of us staying home and the economy really changing, Ms. Holman and I had some conversations with Mayor Anderson about our budget,” Golden told board members.
“And the essence of it is, we really don’t know where sales tax is going. We know there’s going to be a significant drop. The hotel tax is one big example. It is often a big supplier of revenue for communities all over the country and definitely here in Williamson County.
“The mayor asked us to go back and prepare a budget that really reflects our current year’s expenditures with one caveat — knowing that we will grow.”
Golden said the district is projecting an additional 1,013 students over the current enrollment.
He added the budget could see a number of amendment requests with the uncertainty that lies ahead.
“There’s an acknowledgement that over the course of a year things can change,” he explained. “It’s possible that we may get more growth, or get some needs that we don’t know about. Routinely every year we do come from time to time to the commission and to you with small requests to adjust the budget. But if this budget passes the commission, then over the course of a year it’s very possible we may have more requests than normal for budget amendments.”
The budget must also be approved by the county’s education and budget committees and the full Board of Commissioners.
The school board next meets Monday at 6:30 p.m. for its regularly scheduled April meeting. Zoom and live-streaming will again be used.